This was the funnest project! The polymer clay obsession continues... as well as decoden. Do you know what decoden is? I didn't either until a few months ago. I'd seen things made in this style, but never knew there was a name for it. Here's a good FAQ about it. Of course the craft originated in Japan (cute and from Japan? NO! ; ) and apparently started with decorating cell phones. Now decoden includes decorating pretty much anything with fake whipped cream and cute stuff like cabachons, figurines, you name it.
So, starting back at the beginning of this project, my niece had a birthday coming up and knowing that I should take advantage of the fact that she's actually a GIRL (and not a boy like my children and the rest of my four nephews, who yes are indeed boys), I knew I wanted to make her something.
Her family (Ethan's sister's family) lives in Dallas so we don't get to see them as often as we'd like, but I had crafty aunts growing up and I always loved getting handmade gifts from them. We always joke that it's ironic that I came from my Mom and not one of my aunts because neither of my parents have a creative bone in their bodies! (Love you Mom & Dad! ; )
I knew Cecilia was a big Elsa fan (my Mother-in-Law made her an Elsa costume from scratch as well as one for her American Girl doll! Amazing!) so I decided I wanted to make her an Elsa out of polymer clay. That turned into making a decoden trinket box. I see a lot of decoden containers on Etsy (like this and this) and YouTube which sparked the idea. I originally planned on using a glass container, because it made me think of ice (Frozen, ice, get it) but I had a hard time finding the right container and then I realized, glass for a 7 year old might not be the best idea. So, I bought one of those unfinished wood jewelry boxes from Michaels. It ended up having the perfect rectangular area that would fit the composition I had in mind.
I actually recorded footage of me making this box so that I can edit a video and upload it to YouTube for anyone that might want to make it! I'm totally geeking out on the idea of editing a video, which is well beyond my comfort zone. It won't have sound (although I'll probably add a song in the background but promise not to use a really annoying one) and it's just my hands making stuff since those are the kind of videos I'm usually watching (polymer clay tutorials, etc.) I've downloaded Windows Movie Maker and I'll be editing that soon. I'll let you know when it's up! I kind of felt like I should pay-it-forward since watching polymer clay tutorials has pretty much gotten me through this winter.
Mostly, I'm just excited that my kids think it's CRAZY cool that I'm doing a YouTube video because they are YouTube junkies (only parent-approved stuff promise... Tobuscus anyone?)
As you can see above, there were some significant color changes in her dress tail (I guess you'd call it) as well as her hair after I baked her. I was pretty bummed about that, but quickly got over it because she was still pretty darn cute. The clay color I chose for her hair was pretty much spot on and there is even glitter in this particular color - so it's really gorgeous! You can still see the shimmery effect even though the color turned to a light bronze color.
The dress tail was made from translucent clay since it's very sheer in the original movie artwork. I knew it wouldn't bake perfectly clear, and hadn't used translucent clay before. It ended up turning pretty yellow, but I'm not sweating it. Still looks pretty with all the glitter I added! I think what actually happened is that the hair and the dress tail actually burned a little. I'll be sharing lots of polymer clay tips I've accumulated over the past several months, but to explain - for every 1/4 inch thickness of clay, you bake at around 45 minutes. Since the thickest part was around 1/2 inch, I decided to bake her for 90 minutes plus an extra 15 or so just to be sure. I've read many times that it's better to bake too long, rather than not bake long enough because the clay can crack.
Often, light colors will burn... although it's strange that the face didn't change color, too! So maybe it's just those particular colors of clay that might change color slightly after baking, not sure. I'm still learning. Also, the dress tail thickness was much thinner than the rest of her, so technically I shouldn't have baked that part that long.. but it's all stuck together in one piece, so I'm not sure how to handle that. Any advice from the pros would be appreciated!
These are the photos I was working from, below.
For the decoden part, I knew I wanted to use white and clear silicone caulk for the snow and ice (this is what people use as fake whipped cream for other decoden projects). I ended up spreading it on like cake frosting to make it look more like snow, instead of whipping it like you normally do in decoden (to make it look like whipped cream or frosting). I'll share more details of everything I did in the video coming soon.
I used chalk pastels for her blush and adding some darker blue to the bottom of her dress to give it an ombre effect. I added glitter as well. I did all of this before baking.
I had fun researching and purchasing materials for this on Etsy and Ebay. I found all kinds of fake tiny ice crystals, fake fluffy iridescent snow, teeny-tiny micro beads, beads that look like ice cubes, snowflake buttons, tiny hologram snowflake confetti and more. I'll share my sources with the video. I painted the box with acrylic paint and sealed it with a polycrylic varnish. I sealed the polymer clay with something else which I'll share as well.
Her face might look a little familiar if you're an Adventure Time fan. Most of the characters (see here and here) have this simple kawaii face. So this is Elsa... if she were on an episode of Adventure Time. ; ) I really didn't want to go with a more realistic face. I'm happy with how it came out!
I lined the box with some vintage wallpaper I had. I hope Cecilia loves it! And I hope it survives the next few decades so that maybe she can hand it down to her daughter. ; ) Polymer clay is a little fragile, but who knows... maybe with a little care it will last a very long time.